Thanks to Marvel Studios, I was able to sit down and chat with one of the new faces to the Marvel films. This exclusive interview with Karl Urban – the actor that plays Skurge in Thor: Ragnarok, gives us an inside look at what it was like to join the amazing Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Exclusive Interview with Karl Urban
As soon as Karl Urban entered the room, before sitting down to take questions, he immediately walked up and down each row of chairs shaking our hands. He is the first actor I have ever interviewed that took time out to meet each member of the press individually. We were already eager to meet and interview him after attending the premiere the evening before, being welcomed in this way really set the tone of the interview.
I heard that a lot of the movie is improvised, can you go into that?
Allegedly. You know what, I give full credit to Marvel. They hired a director, in Taika who has a very strong comedic style and sensibility and they actually let him do his job.
You know, there was already a brilliant foundation in the script and we would shoot a couple of versions of what was on the page and then shoot a wealth of material that Taika quite frankly just made up and there was nothing sacrilegious about a take, you’d be in the middle of a take and he’d be, oh why don’t you say this, say this line, or a piece of direction just yell it out. And it was actually kind of liberating, because you felt comfortable in that you could- there was no such thing as a bad choice, there was nothing precious about it.
I think that really kind of afforded everybody a wonderful freedom to, you know, fully explore all the options. I can’t wait to see the extras on this movie. I mean it’s like the movie is funny and entertaining but I think the extras are going to be as equally entertaining and I can’t wait to see them.
Do you have a favorite scene that didn’t make the cut?
I have like Skurge’s introduction, when I’m trying to woo the young ladies, they had a whole collection of stolen stuff that Skurge had pillaged from the universe. You only got to see one thing of me shaking the shake weight.
But like they had all sorts of stuff, we shot for hours with me like with fishing rods with lures and all sorts of crazy stuff, so I’m looking forward to seeing that.
What did you think seeing the movie for the first time at the premiere?
I feel so blessed. It was such a pleasurable experience to not only see the film with friends and colleagues but to to see the film with an audience who were thoroughly entertained. Again you have to give full credit to Taika and to Marvel for really producing a film that I think reboots Thor in a wonderful, healthy positive way. And I’m so happy for Chris that he’s actually finally been given the opportunity to spread his wings. I think that this film showcases his complete full potential. Everyone was allowed to bring it.
I really like the arc of your character. How were you given direction for that?
Well it was on the page, you know. I got a call from Taika saying ‘listen there’s this character in this movie that I I’d love you to do’ and I’d wanted to work with Taika for a long time, I’m a huge fan of his work from What We Do In The Shadows, to Wilderpeople, and Boy. So already he had me half hooked right just by calling me, but he sent me the script and I immediately recognized that there was actually something profoundly emotionally compelling about this character’s journey that was eminently relatable.
Here’s a character that’s put in a situation where he has to make a decision, he has to align himself with a cause that he does not believe in but it’s the only thing he can do in order to survive. And I thought that was a very interesting moral dilemma. And then of course, you know, once he’s crossed that bridge and he realizes there is no turning back, then he is looking for a way to redeem himself and that was ultimately, his journey. It resonated on the page.
How did you feel acting out the transition compared to all focus playing a villain?
Well, you know, it’s always a mistake to play a stereotypical caricature of the villain, you know, just to twirl the mustache, wear a black hat, that’s pretty boring. What makes a character, in my opinion, interesting is the faults and the flaws that you can understand. In this case, it’s pretty clear that this character is just trying to survive.
You could see what it meant to him, like his fear, his regret, his internal repulsion at what he was seeing was palpable. But he had no choice, so again it just felt like it was eminently relatable.
We heard from Cate that she worked out 20 minutes a day. Did you work out?
The working out schedule was rather intense. In fact, Taika came to me and he said, ‘Listen, you need to tone it down. You can’t be bigger than Chris, okay?’ So I did, you know.
No, you know what – I just had the most amazing time working on this film. I feel very blessed to be a part of this family, and to have had the opportunity to work with Taika, and for him to be so well supported by the team at Marvel, and for them to have the courage and the bravery to allow him to just do his thing.
Since this is a movie that younger people are watching, is it important for you to act alongside strong female characters?
It’s imperative. I think it would have been a boring movie without them. Cate and Tessa are so wonderful in this film, they are my favorite parts of the movie and I love seeing Tessa’s swagger. I love the journey of her character from the dark place that she was in to redemption, to reclaiming herself with her identity.
I thought it was a strong compelling journey. I had such a wonderful time working with Cate Blanchett. I mean to be perfectly honest, she was the reason I decided to do this movie, it was the opportunity to work with Cate Blanchett. I read that script and saw that ninety percent of my material was with her, I’m like where do I sign up and how much do I pay you?
Your character is trying to survive and do the right thing, how do you teach that life lesson to your boys?
I think with parenting the key is to lead by example and provide a lot of love and support for them. I’m also a firm believer in allowing them to fall down and allowing them to make mistakes because that is ultimately the way we learn. You know, if you can learn from somebody else’s mistake then you’re smart. But most of us learn by making mistakes.
It’s wonderful to watch them grow and flourish, when you don’t push them too hard. I think that’s when I’m most proud of my sons is when out of their own volition, they start to make the right choices in life, like, you know what, I’m going to go and get a part time job. Or, I’m going to start eating healthier.
Thanks to Allison from AllForTheBoys.com for capturing these great shots of Karl Urban during our interview.
Are you headed to see Thor: Ragnarok in theaters this Friday?!
November 3rd the third Thor film opens at your local theater and you will not want to miss it. After reading this exclusive interview with Karl Urban, head over and read my spoiler-free Thor: Ragnarok movie review.